After leaving Apollosa, we decided to take a rest day in Benevento. From that quiet if interesting town, we have followed the Via Appia Antica as it climbed into the limestone highlands and volcanic uplands of the southern Apennines. Geographically, the Way leaves the province of Campania into Basilicata, passing through Mirabella di Passo, Guardia dei Lombardi, Lacedonia, Rocchetta Sant Antonio, Melfi and today Venosa. Historically the route has taken us out of the kingdom of the Lombards and into Norman and Renaissance hill towns. To find a Norman Fortress in Melfi was more than a surprise.
In these highland days, we have seen central southern Italy in many lights – most of them pretty bright! Many of the old hill settlements seem to have ancient populations scarcely being replaced by the next generation. We have seen what could only be described as social decay. But in Mirabella di Passo and Venosa we find lively and vibrant communities. Between the old hill towns we have found many high and quiet routes with fine walking and wonderful vistas and views. Gentle cool breezes and the occasional shading cloud made the heat more bearable.
For the first time we have experienced the kindness and hospitality of the Catholic church. Our thanks to our Italian and Ethiopian hosts in Rocchetta Sant Antonio. Otherwise, our thanks to the former tourist guide, who gave us a guided tour of Benevento’s ancient remains in his old Fiat Panda! ..and the many other unmentioned folks who have made an impression on us through their kindness and generosity. Special thanks to the small legion of Italians who have given us wrong directions and led us to explore so many interesting parts of their towns!
Although we have stood up to the heat and the daily distances, our feet have begun to suffer from the accumulation of many small injuries and blisters. Good wound management by a trained nurse has become crucial!
More prosaically, the quality of local government and information for the traveller has continued to be execrable. In one nameless “Pro Loco” Information Office the staff member was reduced to giving his advice on the basis of a 1967 map of Europe once provided free by the Humble Oil Company! (he succeeded though!).
Basilicata is already looking much better.